The Hot Club of Cowtown

Ghost Train

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Smoky Parisian bistros and steamy eight-to-the-bar rhythms, with an occasional two-step toward Texas roadhouse swing, continue to inspire Austin's archival threesome on Ghost Train. The band covers a few old tunes, but the best performances crop up on their own songs and particularly the ones fashioned with Art Deco affectation. These dominate the first part of the album, most persuasively on "Sleep," deftly written and performed in fairly authentic gypsy style, and "Home," which features a disarming, unaffected vocal by Elana Fremerman over a sly and slippery melody line. Hot Club of Cowtown's relatively routine performance of "You Took Advantage of Me" leads to wilder Western territory; here, aside from Fremerman's searing fiddle throughout "Cherokee Shuffle," their reversion to rawboned cowboy rusticity leaves an anti-climactic aftertaste. Paradoxically, these Texans feel more at home when their minds and their music are thousands of miles away.

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